Grand Theft Auto Movie Coming? Take-Two Seems Open to the Possibility

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Dec 13, 2013 05:02 PM EST
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Examples of heists, car chases, shootouts, colorful characters with a sprinkling of raunchiness and perversion have all been crucial ingredients in the lovely stew of movies to have graced the silver screen. They also happen to be the crucial elements that make up Take-Two and Rockstar's latest opus, Grand Theft Auto V.

As the series has gotten a bit more serious through the years (while still maintaining some of that high school cheeky humor), the idea's been bounced around more than once that the franchise is ready to follow the route that so many other games have taken, be it Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or, dare I even consider bring it up...Double Dragon...*shudder*...and go through the adaptation process of it being turned into a movie. Several big names have been associated with the property while it's merely a video game (I'm looking at you Ray Liotta and Michael Madsen), so what are the chances we'll see the GTA V voice actors bring their characters to life on the big screen?

If you listen to GTA's publisher Take-Two, it seems like there's a sliver of a chance. Take-Two president Karl Slatoff took center stage at the BMO Capital Markets Technology and Digital Media Conference, and talked turkey about the prospects of a GTA-based movie.

"If you're going to invest in a movie -- you can make a lot of money on movies -- but as a licensor, you've got to look at what the success rate is, what the movie has to do for you to generate substantial economics that are worth taking the risk," he said.

If anyone knows budgetary constraints and potential losses and gains, it would have to be Take-Two. Shortly before GTA V's release, it came to light that the game's budget was a whopper, a figure heftier than the budget of some of the biggest movies of the last few years. At $256 mill, it was costlier than "Tron: Legacy," "Inception," "Avatar," and even Whedon's mega blockbuster, "The Avengers." And unlike many of the movies it outspent, it outperformed them to boot. In day one sales alone, GTA V managed to pull in well over $1 billion.

A cool billion sounds like some pretty "substantial economics" to me. So what's the problem?

Slatoff continued, "So if it's a bad movie, does that hurt your franchise or not? So there is always a balance that has to be struck there. But obviously, we consider those inbound requests. We take those inbound requests. So it's something we consider at this point, but again it's not core to what we do."

End result, if they think it'll make money, they'll likely do it. But it's still up in the air. Even if they decided to follow through, expect a fight. Rockstar Chief Dan Houser has been approached about the idea of doing a GTA movie before, and is adamantly against the idea.

"It's never appealed," explained Houser. "The money's never been close to be worth risking one's crown jewels. Our small dabblings with Hollywood have always left us running back to games. The freedom we have to do what we want creatively is of enormous value."

"The second you go near Hollywood, people seem willing, or have been forced, to lose a lot of that control. That sort of amorphous 'that won't test well' attitude is exactly how we don't work. We've always tried to think of stuff that's innovative and new, and to go into a world where that's not encouraged would be horrible."

And of course, there's the problem of compression. Your average video game experience can last a good 4-5 hours minimum, and that's if you speed through. But something as massive as GTA, seeing and experiencing everything it has to offer?

"A world where you can do everything from rob a bank to take a yoga lesson to watch TV, all in your own time," said Houser. "How do you condense that into a two-hour or 12-hour experience where you take away the main things: player agency and freedom?"

Simply put, you don't.

If anything, you're more likely to see GTA as a TV show, and even the chances of that are slim. But a movie? Don't hold your breath.

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